Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ten to Watch in '10

I almost gave up on publishing this list, given that the first quarter of 2010 is almost over. Some might even say that it's too late to publish such a list. Still, I feel that these ten artists are deserving of the attention and should not be denied the exposure because of my severe tardiness. Better late than never, right? As for these artists, some are well established within the local music community, while some are relative unknowns. Every single one of them is worth your time and attention.

Air Review
In 2009, bands like Hendrick, The Farstar, and Dovetail reminded local music fans that it is possible to blend together the best parts of indie rock and commercial alternative music. Air Review has followed that model and then taken it to another level with a sound that combines all the best qualities of British bands like Muse and Radiohead without ever coming off as imitators. Their song, "Chasing Corporate" is not only an incredibly catchy tune, but it is a surprisingly intelligent song about trying to catch a break in the music business. And while the band repeats the line "This could be our only chance" throughout the song, their album Landmarks is filled with many other great songs ("Exodus", "All Because You're Mine", and "Cartography" for starters) that will give the band multiple chances to win over fans.
When 2009 began, I had no idea who Iris Leu was. All it took was one listen, however, and I was instantly hooked by her gorgeously memorable voice and great songs. By the end of the year, her talent earned her a substantial following. Throughout the year, she joined both Morning Elephant and Chameleon Chamber Group, and she even won Best New Artist at the Quick Awards Show. I think Emmeline, another talented young singer songwriter with tremendous skill on the piano, has the potential to pull a similar feat this year.
Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights
Sure, JT&NL have pretty much conquered the metroplex area, bringing droves of adoring fans to each and every show. There is no doubt that they are stars in our metroplex. So why are they spotlighted in this list? Now that their major label debut, Pardon Me, will be released this April, the band has the potential to duplicate that success on a national level. Now is the part where I get on my soapbox. It has been too long since our city has had the chance of such a major success story as JT&NL. So please, if you're a fan of their 60's influenced southern soul (as you should be), do your part. Buy the album. Go to shows. Call your radio stations. Go to more shows. Tell your friends. Maybe then you can say, "yeah, I knew them way back when".
My love of Lovie isn't exactly new. Their debut album Harshmellow was a very enjoyable collection of catchy tunes sure to put a smile on even the biggest grouch's face. So why are GOBL faves Lovie on this list? Well, if the track "Your Virgo" (from their upcoming EP Because of My Mattress) is any indication, the band is taking things to another level. Don't get me wrong, the songs still have that pop sensibility to them. The difference now is that their sound is slightly more aggressive and a lot more energetic, sort of like a local version of Sleater-Kinney. Perhaps this is due to newer additions Leanna Bates on drums and Kristen DeRocha on bass. Either way, Lovie, this new sound looks good on you. Yes, I know I'm mixing metaphors.
Luna Matto
Polyphonic Spree side projects are nothing new. St. Vincent, Andrew Tinker, the list could go on and on. So Luna Matto is just another name to add to the list, right? Wrong! From the first time I saw this band play live at Lakewood Bar and Grill, I knew instantly that this is a band that needed to be heard by the masses. Ms. Matto's voice is distinctive and quite lovely, and I have yet to hear a song by her that hasn't amazed me. Her style is in a definite Cat Power/Sia type of vein, and she's every bit as good as those artists, if not better. By this time next year, she should be selling out the Granada Theater and other venues of that size not only in Dallas but across this nation. I once said on the blog that if Luna Matto doesn't "explode" this year, that I "just might lose my faith in the Dallas music fan." I still stand behind that statement. There are few artists I'd go that far out on a limb with, and Luna Matto is one of them.
So much has been done with music that it seems difficult to do something truly unique. Yet I feel that Jimmy Menkena has managed to do that with his blend of acoustic and shoegaze sounds. He and his band has blended together the beautiful sonic stylings of shoegaze with the captivating lyrics of what is normally only found in the singer-songwriter world. Yes, their music is quiet by nature, and if you're looking for the soundtrack to a party, then Menkena will not work. If, however, you want to dive into a gorgeous sonic landscape and get lost in a masterfully told story, then you will not find a better act in Dallas than Menkena. Oh,I almost forgot, they'll be releasing their first full length CD soon. I predict it'll be one of my most listened to CD's of the year.
The Monco Poncho
First of all, let me say I'm thrilled that the band has found such an enthusiastic fan base for their live shows. If you have not seen them live yet, it is a fun experiences filled with western dress and lots of cap guns. Still, I sometimes worry that it distracts from the fine songs written by lead singer Nick Durham and the rest of the gang. When they release their debut CD next month, be sure to pick it up and listen carefully. The shows may be fun, but the songs can definitely stand alone on their merit.
Ryan Thomas Becker
I'm not going to specify whether to watch his solo career, RTB2, Slow Burners, Eaton Lake Tonics, or whatever other project he may be a part of this week. Here's what you need to know: if it involves Mr. Becker, it's a big deal. That's all you need to know.
Sarah Jaffe
When I compiled the list, I knew that Ms. Jaffe was going to release her first full length, Suburban Nature, on Kirtland Records. I even knew she was opening for Midlake on their European tour, no doubt a nice opportunity for some exposure. Never would I have predicted that she'd be getting to open for Norah Jones. That's right, she's the main support for Ms. Jones on several dates, including her Dallas performance May 4th at the Fair Park Music Hall. And yes, her voice is still powerful enough to send chills down your back. Some things never change.
Tonite Tonite, but After Tonite You're on Your Own
It's been a long road for the band, almost breaking up several times and coming close to releasing their album but never getting it out yet. I think 2010 will finally break the spell for this band, and their debut (produced by none other than Salim Nourallah) will finally see the light of day. Like Menkena, this is a quiet band, but one whose beautiful melodies are well worth the attention. And as for the band's name, yes, it's a little long. Some would say that a name so long will hurt the band, yet ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead managed to do just fine.

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